Jackson, our new puppy, is running around the house like a crazy madman. He wants to play, he wants to eat. He has to go to the bathroom. And he needs something to chew right now before he chews me. Ugh, so exhausting. I love my crazy little pup, but the first few days of having him were awful, because all I could think of was my old dog, Sam, and how much I miss him, and what a wonderful, kind, sweet, brave dog he was. Poor Jackson. Sam was my hero.

So for the first two nights of having Jackson, I woke up crying about Sam. He’s almost two years gone now, but I still dream of running through fields of tall grass with him (his favorite place). Sam was special. He was so totally kind. He was freedom. And he saved my heart from the heady halls of academia, because I got him about half way through a Ph.D – just when I started to get pretty lost in all that thinking.

It made me wonder if all love is like that, all tangled up with old wounds and all. Of course it is, but you know, puppy is supposed to be a happy thing, just like new love. I wasn’t expecting it to open that little corner of grief I had tucked away for my old dog.

How can we keep opening our hearts when the times pile up in there?

Maybe it is a habit that has to be practiced every day as you get a little older — the habit of not assuming it’s the same road because it looks the same. Or the habit of going down the same road, but being brave enough to stop somewhere new.

Do you do that?

Take a chance? Be brave? Love a new dog?